The UK’s retailers are looking forward to ‘freedom day’ on 19 July in the hope that the opportunity for consumers to shop “without restrictions” will entice them back to stores.

This comes as British Retail Consortium data shows that retail footfall in June was down nearly 28% on 2019 figures.

This marks only a 0.1% improvement from May of this year.

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Helen Dickinson, chief executive of British Retail Consortium, said: “Overall footfall levels saw little improvement on the previous month, though retail parks and shopping centres experienced an uptick.

“Footfall is down on pre-pandemic levels, as the public are making more purposeful shopping trips, with less browsing and more buying.

“With most overseas holidays on hold, many Britons have sought out-of-town escapes while foreign tourist numbers have fallen. This appears to have helped footfall in smaller towns and cities.

“Retailers are hopeful that footfall will recover further with the move to the final stage of the roadmap, particularly as office workers begin to return to work in larger cities.

“The ongoing vaccination programme is essential to the UK economy’s success in the future, as future lockdowns would imperil the current recovery.

“Government must provide clear and consistent guidance on 12 July to ensure both the public and businesses know what is expected of them.”

Andy Sumpter, retail consultant EMEA for Sensormatic Solutions, commented: “The UK’s footfall in June was mildly better than what we saw in May.

“This small uplift in footfall (only seen in England and Wales) was perhaps unsurprising given that COVID rules were, by and large, the same.

“Whilst confidence from the vaccination program and some indoor dining might have given a much-needed boost, the delayed rollback of restrictions, due to the accelerated spread of the delta variant will have dampened the impact.

“With most restrictions expected to be lifted on the 19 July, we can finally hope to see what the somewhat over-referenced new normal may actually look like.

“As more people start to venture back to their offices, the much-missed commuter business will be a welcome return. Retailers will also be hoping their customers have missed browsing without restrictions, as much as they have missed their customers.”